Here we go! I started off with 10 and then looked back and had to revise it because there were so many more albums I loved listening to this year. I think this year was a good year for alternative music. It was especially nice to see some more eclectic music surface. So here are my Top 20 albums of 2011, I chose these based upon the simple fact that these were the albums I listened to most. I won’t bore you with the details of why, but I will include a link to my favorite song off the track. Feel free to leave your list in the comment section or any general feedback if you like.
There you go, this was a fun list to make I also put together a Spotify list of all the songs I mentioned in the list. Subscribe to it here. The only song missing is Coldplay’s Princess of China and that is because the album isn’t on Spotify.
Aaron Gillespie stopped by the Power FM studios while in Dallas. In the interview we talked about him becoming a father, his sons name, and what God has showed him through his solo album. We also talked about the third album from The Almost. Aaron also performed an acoustic version of the title track from his solo album called Anthem Song.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Dustin Kensrue of Thrice earlier today before their show at The Prophet Bar. I have been a long time fan of Thrice and Dustin’s work so to have a chance to talk to him about their latest release Major/Minor was truly an honor. The interview runs about 20 minutes, and don’t forget to check out the acoustic performance of the song Promises (below).
In the interview we talked a lot about the meanings behind some of the songs off the new record Major/Minor, his writing style and collaborations for this record. We also talked a lot about the institution of marriage and the ideas behind the new single Promises. The band is currently on tour right now in support of their latest release and to find out more tour dates and details about the band visit Thrice.net.
The new record Vice Verses is now officially out! I have been waiting on the release of this record, because I feel that this is some of the best work Switchfoot has done yet. I always felt that Hello Hurricane put Switchfoot back on the map and paved the way for the future of Switchfoot. I also think Vice Verses is a great follow up to the Hello Hurricane. If you have heard the new record or have read anything about it you know one thing that is pretty prevalent with Vice Verses is the sound of the record. This is one of the things that most people have talked about. Tim even mentions it in the interview. This record is more bass and drum driven. Some songs it might be hard to pick up, while others it is pretty obvious. The record still sounds like a Switchfoot record but there are distinct differences that make this record unique. The album deals with the polarity of life, the highs and lows, the beauty in the pain, and ultimately hope. What amazes me is that 15 years later as a band Switchfoot is still making music that is lyrically challenging and sonically amazing. Vice Verses is no exception and if this record is the new sound that Switchfoot is heading in, I think a lot of people will say how their music has stood the test of time.
Below are some of my thoughts about the songs off the new album Vice Verses, if you want to hear my interview with Tim Foreman feel free to click on his name to bring up the audio. In the interview Tim and I talked a lot about his parts on the new record, when they came up with the idea for Vice Verses and his thoughts on some of the songs.
The video is the second part of the interview to understand the full conversation listen to the 1st part and then watch the second.
Afterlife I really like how this song starts off the record. I think Afterlife is characteristic of Switchfoot’s style lyrically. The song talks about action and why wait to make change when you can do something about it now. Why wait for the “afterlife to come alive” when you can do come alive now? I love how this song encourages action.
The Original reminds me of a infectious 60′s funk song that tinkers on the verge of something Jimmy Hendrix would of wrote and smiled about. Lyrically it pushes and challenges people to step outside of their comfort zone to be free. On a side not I could easily see this song in a Gap Commercial, wait I bet this happens.
The War Inside has a play on words that Jon works so well into songs. For example the lyric “every fight comes from the fight within” leaves the person thinking about the context of that statement longer after the song is over. I feel like this is one of the stronger tracks off the album and definitely displays the new sound of Switchfoot. Not only does Jon wrestle with the idea of the war inside but also answers the question ultimately pointing the finger at himself saying “I am the war inside” suggesting that we need to hold ourselves more accountable for our actions.
Restless this is the first balled esq song off Vice Verses and lyrically Restless fits within the context of what Switchfoot is comfortable with. Questioning the unseen, while looking and searching for the answer. The easiest and most honest display of the theme Vice Verses in the record. The idea of longing for something you know your capable of, but yet something you haven’t fully grasped. The idea of hope but for there to be hope there has to be friction. That is restless.
Blinding Light I feel like this is another song that is geared more towards the homeless kids, and our a younger generation. Jon spends the majority of the song talking/singing towards a younger generation.
Selling The NewsI was really excited to hear this song and I think that it is one of if not my favorite off the cd. A spoken word song from Switchfoot? When I first heard about this I wasn’t sure it was going to work and then I heard it and it does. Selling The News is a song that is about what the title suggests. How the media interprets the facts and spins the story to create something that will sell, and then how we digest it as Truth. Love it.
Thrive is a song that I really identified with on the record, and I have a love hate relationship with it. I love it because the lyrics speak truth to me, which is hard to grasp. This is also a new indication of the sound. More bass driven and rhythm. I love the lyrics “A warm body doesn’t mean I’m alive” and “I want to Thrive not just simply survive.” I get chills listening to that and also get encouraged.
Dark Horses is the first radio single off the new record and is a song about the homeless kids that the Bro-Am helps through Stand Up For Kids. A really great song and Jon talks alot about it in depth in our previous interview we had.
Souvenirs is going to be a sleeper song for me. It doesn’t mean its bad because I like Souvenirs and I think it fits within the theme of Vice Verse ie polarity.
Rise Above ItThis is another song that relies heavily on the bass and drums and is pretty groovy. Lyrically, it speaks to overcoming adversity. Pretty infectious.
Vice Verses is the title track and the most obvious song dealing with the idea of polarity. This song is the backbone of the record. It was written very early on in the process and almost made Hello Hurricane but the band decided it needed to be on its own record. Thus Vice Verses was born and the theme of polarity and finding beauty in destruction was the central theme for the new record.
Where I BelongTim Foreman talks alot about this song in our interview and while my perspective has changed on the song since hearing it, I have to agree the song has new meaning. I think I let Tim explain his thoughts on this.
So there we have it, my thoughts on the new Vice Verses record with some commentary from Tim. I already know this will be on my list of top albums for 2011. No questions. I have been lucky enough to chat with both Tim and Jon and can tell they are both genuine people. This is one reason why Switchfoot is different from so many other bands out there, and why they have put out their 8th album which is arguably their best work yet.
The other day Christian and Tomas from Blindside came into the studio to hang for a bit while they were playing in Dallas. It had been about 4 years since the band had played in Dallas and this is the first major tour back to the states since 2004. In the interview we talked about their new album With Shivering Hearts We Wait, why they were gone for so long, working with Howard Benson and the back story behind two songs.
Overall the guys were really great to chat with. It may be another 5 years before they make it back to Dallas so it was nice to visit with them while they were here. Also below is an acoustic version of the song “Our Love Saves Us”
Outside the Camp was on Indieground this past Sunday on Power FM. The guys talked about their trip to Nashville to record the Overcome Demo and how that experience helped shape the way they write songs and perform live. The band also did an acoustic version of the song Dead Men Tell No Tales exclusively on Indieground. The entire interview is posted below and the acoustic version of Dead Men Tell No Tales is also available to download for free below as well.
Here is small excerpt from their bio:
In a world full of so many failing efforts, it’s hard to conceive a purpose that we may fulfill in life; but in this wake of Disaster, there is one answer to what our purpose may be: selflessness. Embark with us on a voyage in search to find hope in our life. Sail the seas as we risk everything searching for some type of answer. Risk the gallows as we may become shipwrecked, becoming the monster that we have most feared-destroying everything around us. Hold fast mercy and grace as we may be broken to nothing, in hopes to find peace and satisfaction in this life. Witness . . . the Divine, in the wake of disaster…
To download the song click on the arrow located on the right side of the Soundcloud player.
Also, sign up for the newsletter to stay connected with local and national interviews and FREE music. Currently you can get a free song from Jessy Ribordy of Falling Up’s side project The Gloom Catcher by signing up. Sign up to get the free download and also read the interview I did with him to find out what happened to Falling Up and their latest release Your Sparkling Death Cometh.
Falling Up is an experimental alternative rock band from Oregon. To date the band has released 7 albums with the most recent album being a completely fan funded, independent album. In the interview I caught up with lead singer Jessy to talk about their latest release “Your Sparkling Death Cometh,” the reason why they left long time label BEC Recordings, how their fans and Kickstarter helped fund the new album. We also talked about what the process was like recording this record independently. Jessy also offered a free song from his solo project The Gloomcatcher for free to those who subscribe to the newsletter below: (interview after the break)
Adrian Hummel: What was going through your minds when you announced the break?
Jessy of Falling Up: Well, we were a little bit frustrated because we were moving in this direction that we didn’t want to go and it (the break) was nothing super permanent, we weren’t being super decisive. We also wanted to do tours with different bands that were our friends, that weren’t necessarily on the label or weren’t in the crowd that we were touring with. We just kind of had these different plans we wanted to do and branch out in a different direction and it just kind of didn’t work out with what the label was planning, with our vision and that’s when we decided to split with them. It was a mutual decision because they were like “we don’t know what we can do with you guys anymore” and we were like “we don’t know if it’s the healthiest thing anymore” and that’s when we decided to split. But really it was more about trying to re think what we wanted to do and how we wanted to apply and really kind of go back to the reasons we started the band in the first place and the reason we started playing music in the first place. It took that year to really realize that talk with one another and then decide how we wanted to move forward with it. It was weird because the reason why we announced it as a permanent break was because we weren’t sure if we were going to be playing again. If once we came to that decision with “What do we want to do with the future of this band?” and that possibility could have been we don’t want to continue anymore. We kind of all aligned with this idea of still wanting to make music and we were even talking about still wanting to tour and pick things back up, but we wanted to do it really independently and really relaxed. Kind of the idea going forward is really protecting ourselves as independent artists and protecting the music we were doing and what we want to do. Our focus was, we can really do anything we were doing before as long as we were protecting the thing what we love the most, which is our music and our art that we are showing everybody. That was the idea and then we went on into the Kickstarter thing, which is a great program. It was kind of cool because we didn’t know after not touring for a while and being out for about a year if people even wanted a new record. It was really nice to have something like Kickstarter because you are able to know if this group of people at least wanted to hear new music. At least we know we have some basis to go off of, and it was really great to be apart of that program. We have just been self-releasing things and doing things really independently and it really feels like what it was like when we first started out. I was talking with the guys the other day we had this website when we first started touring with Crashings and I always put blogs up there and would share funny stories on the road and I was really talking with people and connecting with people and spending my time getting to know people who were interested in what I was doing. It feels a lot like that, because we are able to do that now, we are able to answer emails and talk to people, and really get to know the kind of family that surrounds us with our music.
Adrian Hummel: Was there any doubt with the Kickstarter that maybe you wouldn’t raise the money for the album?
Jessy of Falling Up: Yeah it was a little scary and we did have a back up plan. Over the last couple years I have been building a studio and producing. We have the ability to do the album on our own, minus any kind of funding. It wouldn’t have been the record we would of wanted, as far as sound quality of it if we didn’t have a budget. We did probably think we could do this, but then the question came up that if we can’t even get a budget from our fans that want us to do the record, then how to do we know if we are shoving music down people’s throats that didn’t want it? The Kickstarter campaign is a really great program but its scary for people because a lot of people still don’t understand it because some people may think “I am not going to pay money for something that I don’t know what the quality of the music is going to be.” It really is kind of an interesting thing because the fans can get into the shoes of the label and see ok “do we believe in these guys and if we believe in them then we should put the money, and if we don’t, we don’t.” It really puts the fans to the test and it’s like how much faith do you have in a project that you have no control over other than just funding it. It was defiantly one of those things we had a lot of discussion about what would happen if we don’t get it and there were moments when I didn’t even think, we haven’t had anything going on in the last couple years, even when things came out we just toured lightly. Kind of the proof was on our Facebook, since I announced the possibility of new music back in November of 2010 our Facebook fans started growing, and growing and we were getting more and more daily and that was kind of proof that the Kickstarter would work.
Adrian Hummel: If the opportunity came up and a label presented itself to you, would you even be interested in that?
Jessy of Falling Up: I would, I think it actually would be a lot better now because we know the ins and outs of a label and we know what we can do independently and how we can do it and the level we can get to independently. I think it all kind of intertwines into this idea if a label came up to us and says here is what we have to offer, I would have a list of things that I would want right off the bat for things to be taken care of within the label. When we got signed we were 18 years old fresh out of high school, we didn’t go to college our idea was we were going to give the band a year to see if we can really pick it up and a couple months after we graduated we got a call from a label. Of course we were going to sign a contract and of course we didn’t even read it, we were just stoked out of our minds because every kid dreams of that. It was just this big thing and we really didn’t even know what was going on and now it really opens my eyes to knowing exactly what’s going on. The advice I would give for bands that haven’t toured, that don’t have fans, and that are just starting out, I hear all these people say you need to go independent just do it yourself. I think its hard because the label wants more of the growth and the name to be attached to them, but the idea whether you go on a label or not is to just protect what you have and that is the biggest thing. The thing that I would go into, if a label came to me I would just say here is what I have. Here is what I can do, which is write music, record music, and perform it, and if you like these songs then we can share in them. But, I am going to protect them with my life because this is all I have. What the label has to understand is they have other bands, they have got other things going on, and your not just that labels band, or their only band. I could see if it were the labels only band that they have then it would be a different story. They got all these different projects and you only have what you have. That’s kind of the idea, I would just be really protective of what we have, just guarded it and guide it the way we want to be whether that’s in percentages or even more the idea of what the vision and brand is. That is what I would want to protect even more than just percentages and money because perception is everything. If you’re not perceived right by people then what’s the point? If you’re getting misrepresented by what you actually do and what your heart is it just doesn’t feel good.
Adrian Hummel: Now I have a good understanding of what you mean when you say protect the music. Let’s talk a little bit about Your Sparkling Death Cometh, the recording process and the over all finished product because overall I am really impressed with the album, the overall product, the website everything is really well done. Could you be any happier with the finished product?
Jessy of Falling Up: We are really pleased and that was kind of the goal going into it. A little bit of each member had a little piece in them that contributed to the album and our experience was an education in a way because we have been in and out of studios for the last 8-10 years. It has been a learning process for us and each individual person has their own individual thing like Jeremy is a fantastic web designer and he is really good at viral ideas and marketing. He works for a really great place in Austin, Texas and he was really professional about all that stuff. Josh our drummer has been going to school for mixing and engineering for the last couple years and has been mixing projects and getting fantastic at that, he mixed some solo stuff that I did and some other projects here and there. He got really great at that, and then I have just been in and out of the studio writing and producing and when we had the opportunity to do this record we went down to Casey Crescenzo who was our last producer for Fangs. He was like “come down and use my studio and I’d love to just hang out and be there and whatever you need me for,” so we went down there and had a great studio to use with great equipment and just kind of made it happen. It was a really great experience because it was like now is our chance to kind of put the music to the test and see what we could do and see where the decisions we have made can intertwine and I am super stoked about how it turned out and how it came together and utilized each of the things that we could do to make this record the best thing we could make it.
Adrian Hummel: Listening to some of the new songs, one of my personal favorites is Blue Ghost, do you have any that really kind of stick out to you in this record?
Jessy of Falling Up: Actually, Blue Ghost lyrically was one of my favorites that came out. The bridge section in it I was really debating, because we tried to not copy and paste and it wasn’t like one take and we tried to keep it as less digital as possible and didn’t want to do all the auto-tuning and stuff like that. We just wanted to keep it raw and real and at the same time keep it a rock record. But at the bridge I had this idea to do the T-Pain auto tune stuff and it was a debate because well if I put it in do you think people are going to think that everything in this record is going to be auto tuned? We had to really T-Painish and really auto-tune it so people could tell here is my voice without it and here is my voice with it. So, it was one of those things that was kind of fun. I think one of my favorite moments on the record and probably favorite song just because it was a special time when we were making it was MSCRON and namely just the end where there is this jam section. It was kind of a tribute because we just kind of went off things into more of the experimental area. We wanted to put a song or two on the record that still held that side of our music up. Just the end of that song was a really cool moment and a complete accident. I had bought this guitar pedal that was a pitch shifter and it bends the guitar a couple octaves and I had it plugged it into the guitar, then I found this little knob that changes the key here and there and bounces in-between polyphonic harmonics. So I realized that it could be utilized as a solo if you just kind of resonate a string and mess with the pedal. It was literally one of those moments were like “oh my gosh, this is going to sound cool!” Hit record and it was one take, did it. It was a really cool moment because it just worked out perfectly and it couldn’t of been planed and those kind of moments I like in the studio, your not planning it and it just pours out of you.
Adrian Hummel: Does that ever transcribe in trying to remember how to play that live?
Jessy of Falling Up: Yeah, yeah it does. It is always an interesting experience when going from that to live. We try and keep our set open sometimes like we did on the on the song Islander. We would play live and have this section that we would just do something different. We just leave this certain part open to just jam and it was always our favorite time of the show, but probably from the fans they were just like get it over with. It was an interesting way to keep things fresh and light all the time. As far as translating a lot of the songs especially to live from all the production that you do on a cd. That’s were my OCD comes in, I have to have it sound pretty close to the cd. Like if there is a vo-coder on my voice, or if there is 3 or 4 synths going on I want those synths to be played live. During the last couple years when we were touring everyone was playing a keyboard; every body was doing something because I had to have it sound like it was on the cd. It can get a little obsessive; sometimes I like the idea of making a song a little bit different live. At the same time its kind of nice to able to hear what’s going on the cd.
Adrian Hummel: Now that you guys have an album out is there going to be a tour coming up?
Jessy of Falling Up: We have talked about it and we don’t have anything planned right now, but we have been discussing it and we are wanting to. There is a lot of rumors and a lot of things on our Facebook and website about “oh, the new record is coming out and they are not planning on touring, there is just going to be making music and what not.” We are wanting to tour, its just a matter of finding the right one and we are being really picky about who we go out with and how the tour is presented. We are discussing a big almost every state nationwide tour and we are going to try and make it a little more like how we did our record. I guess “independent” would be a bad word for a tour, but its more underground. It will obviously be announced dates, but not super propaganda, not super media, it will be more like we are going to be here and you might find out about it a month in advance that we are going to be here at this date. That’s kind of what we are planning and we would kind of like to do a blitz tour that would be this underground movement.
Adrian Hummel: The last thing I want to ask you Jessy is now that you guys are independent and it sounds like things are going really well for you guys, what’s the biggest way people can support you?
Jessy of Falling Up: There are several ways, if people want to buy the record there is a really good avenue for us is through Bandcamp and we have it set up on our website. A lot people are more comfortable through iTunes and Amazon Mp3 because they are used to it, but Bandcamp is basically the same and you get a direct download of the record, but it makes it really easy on us and it’s a great service for the band because iTunes doesn’t always work and they are kind of glitchy. I would just encourage Bandcamp for the first option and the physical cd is available too. Also, really we love reviews and those help out a lot. Good reviews and bad ones, “what do they say bad media is any media.” Even if it’s a bad review I just like to hear peoples thoughts on it. That also is a way to help spread the word. Blogging about the cd, their thoughts and what not is another one. After that the next thing would be just spreading the word that we are going to be touring and getting stoked for that. Anytime people want to drop us a line on our website we made it really easy for people to email us, and that comes directly to us.
Adrian Hummel:Well Jessy thank you so much for hanging out and talking about the new record.
Jessy of Falling Up: Thank you very much for the support.
The Chariot is an American hardcore punk band from Atlanta Georgia. The band is known for their extremely high energy and intense live shows. The current lineup consists of Josh Scogin on vocals, Stephen Harrison on guitar, Jon Kindler on bass, David Kennedy on Drums, and Brandon Henderson on guitar. Here is an excerpt from their bio;
In 2003, the hardcore underground received a fresh burst of raw, scorching energy in the form of The Chariot. Under the leadership of front man Josh Scogin, the band spent two years touring under their debut album Everything Is Alive, Everything Is Breathing, Nothing Is Dead, and Nothing Is Bleeding and their 2005 EP Unsung. After solidifying their lineup, The Chariot hit the recording studio again to release the full-length album The Fiancee in 2007. “The Fiancee” was well received by hardcore listeners and helped to boost The Chariot’s constantly growing fan base.
The other part of this interview is with Dan Smith of Listener. Listener promises to be a different story. Fronted by Dan Smith the band focuses on a unique form of talk music which consists of spoken word prose and poetry typically backed by a guitar. The band keeps a simple, honest, and independent concept and plays smaller house shows along with bigger European festivals.
The two come together in this interview through a mutual song The Chariot did called David De La Hoz. The complex song focuses on The Chariot’s aggressive style of music but also blends in Listener’s unique aspect of Talk Music. The two together prove to be something extremely different and memorable. I had a chance to catch up with Josh and Dan backstage at The All Stars tour and stopped both of them to talk a little bit about each others bands and the song they recorded together. In the interview we also talked about the music video they shot for David De La Hoz, which was done in one take with a budget of $25 dollars. See the video for the song below and of course thanks for subscribing and recommending this to your friends.
I had a chance to catch up with Fronz backstage at the All Stars Tour in Dallas and got to ask him a ton about the new record Outlawed. That basically was the interview. When I read that they got to work with Joey Sturgis on this upcoming record I was really curious as to what it would sound like, how it would differ from their previous record, and what the front mans perspective on it all was. Needless to say, I am stoked, and any fan of Joey’s work should be pretty stoked too.
“You should do whatever it takes to have fun and enjoy the music you’re hearing. A party is whatever you make it out to be.”
Party death metal rockers Attila formed in their hometown of Atlanta in 2005, meeting each other at their high school and through mutual friends. Their mutual love of music (and partying) brought the guys together to form what would eventually become the fourth imprint on the Artery Foundation/Razor & Tie joint venture, Artery Recordings.
When the guys set out to name their newly formed band, they knew they were looking for a simple, one word name that didn’t imply the typical death metal cliché terms such as “blood, dying, and darkness.” One day they found themselves in a bookstore passing around a book about Attila the Hun, and so Attila was born.
Over the years Attila has gone through a few lineup changes, but founding members Fronz and Sean have remained a constant staple. For the past two years, the band has consisted of Fronz (vocals), Nate (guitar), Chris (guitar), Sean (drums) and Chris (bass). This lineup really brought together Attila’s sound and image that they are known for today. The band began touring full time and as of summer 2010, has been on the road almost non-stop for two years.
Attila released two prior albums, Fallacy and Soundtrack To A Party, on Statik Factory Records, and have previously toured with Arsonists Get All The Girls, See You Next Tuesday, Chelsea Grin, America Me, and We Are The End. RAGE, Attila’s Artery Recording/Razor & Tie debut will be released May 11, 2010, and is a unique mix of heavy music infused with elements that make each song fun to listen to and put the listener in the mood to party. “The title can be perceived in many ways, one obviously being a state of extreme anger, and the other being the slang meaning – to party! I have always been a fan of play-on-words and double meanings, and that’s what drew me to this title more than anything,” Fronz commented.
First for those that don’t know or haven’t heard of iwrestledabearonce they are an American heavy metal band formed in 2007 in Shreveport, Louisiana, and currently based in Los Angeles, California. Their musical style is considered avant-garde metal due to their use of frequent genre changes within songs, including jazz, disco, swing, easy listening, grindcore and electronica, but primarily metalcore. Their music is generally described as a “spastic blending of genres.” This past Sunday I had a chance to catch up with Steven Bradley guitarist and programmer for the band iwrestledabearonce back stage at the All Stars Fest. We had a chance to talk about how the tour was going and the upcoming album that came out Tuesday. In the interview we talked a lot about the new record and how it was stylistically different than the previous. Steven commented on how everyone in the band hated their last album and how they felt primarily rushed to record it due to the fact they had just gotten off tour. Steven also commented on the success of their band by in part due to the airplay they received from Sirius XM’s Hard Attack channel. New details about an hour long movie the band will premier this October right around Halloween. In the hour long movie Steven described that they all get murdered and they kill a bunch of people in the process. It was filmed using an expensive “Michael Bay” camera, and the band should be announcing details about screenings, so keep on the look out for the details on that. The video started off as a music video but then they just coming up with ideas so they decided to make the video an entire hour. Catch the full video interview below and then also pick up their new album Ruining It For Everybody out in stores now. I also have a ton of other video interviews that I will be putting up soon. Hang tight for that and thanks for check this out!
Catch the song Tastes Like Kevin Bacon below. This was the track that got a ton of airplay on Sirius XM’s Hard Attack channel, and helped gain tons of news fans.
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